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WCR Mentoring Program
career centerwcr mentoring program

October 2002
Women chefs and restaurateurs is an organization that has risen to answer a need in the culinary community.

One of the most frequent requests that I get as a chef during an interview is. "Do you have any advice to give people coming up the ladder?" I really only have one answer. " You need a mentor." You need to find yourself someone that will take an interest in your career and guide you through the difficult moments. Sometimes they are cooking questions and sometimes they are tough work situation but you need someone. I was very lucky that there has always been a chef or friend there for me that cared about my career, my progress, and was making sure that I was learning what I needed to learn. Even after 20 years in the industry I still have mentors, people that I look up to and respect, people that answer my questions - people that I listen too.

Being a chef can be the most exciting and fun job. I have thoroughly enjoyed working in the kitchen. However, when the pressure and challenges begin to mount its great to have support. Women Chefs and restaurateurs have really come through for women starting out and working their way up in the restaurant industry. By formalizing a mentoring program they have made it possible for the "mentees" to access advice, knowledge and the edge they need to move forward in their careers.

The WCR has enlisted 140 members to mentor, an impressive list of who's who in the industry names like Alice Waters, Anne Rosenzweig, Nora Pouillon, and Sarah Moulton. This is an opportunity for women to share expertise, and "to support the advancement of women in the restaurant industry. " These are key component of the mission of WCR. I also feel that it helps to build a stronger culinary community. The more shared information can only help create better food on the tables' of restaurants around the country. I have to hand it to the leadership of WCR that they seem to have created a great balance between personal contact and modern technology. They have structured the program to contain at least 2 personal meetings a year and e-mail contact twice a month.

Women Chefs and Restaurateurs current president is Chef Ann Cooper of the Ross School in East Hampton, NY. I wanted to share her perspective with you on the up coming mentoring program.

I asked her what she hoped to achieve by establishing a mentoring program? "One of the comments we've gotten from members is that networking is really important - that they want to be able to connect with other women in the industry and learn from those with more experience. My hope is that we'll succeed in helping our members fulfill these desires and help women in the industry be ever more successful in their careers."

Chef Cooper feels that the initial 200 mentees need to have "a desire to learn, to share, and eventually a desire to mentor others." The WCR has created an application that needs to be submitted to the group in order to facilitate "matching mentees needs with mentor strengths."

When I asked chef Cooper what qualifies someone to be a mentor she said. "Someone with knowledge in the industry that they can share with others, many mentors will have a proven track record of accomplishment in the culinary world."

Personally, I wouldn't mind having Alice Waters as a mentor myself. Where do I apply?

For further information about the program contact executive director Melissa Mershon at [email protected].

Written By Sarah Stegner

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